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In Turkey, One Emergency Rule Ends, Another Begins

Last week, Turkey’s emergency rule came to an end. Normally, it should have been met with great joy and celebration after two years of crackdown, arrests and a debilitating purge in civil service and security bureaucracy, all of which grounded on emergency laws.

On Wednesday, the European Union, Council of Europe and other relevant international institutions even offered congratulatory remarks to Turkey.

“With the end of the state of emergency, we call for the immediate withdrawal of the notifications of derogations to the European Convention on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,” Massimo Frigo, ICJ Senior Legal Adviser for Europe and Central Asia Programme, said.

“We remain concerned that many of the emergency measures have been given permanent effect in Turkish law and will have pernicious and lasting consequences for the enjoyment of human rights and for the rule of law in Turkey,” he stated.

But when Turkish Parliament passed a new anti-terror law on Friday, the brief state of hope quickly dissipated. A new set of measures to offset the loss of the power emanating from emergency laws, draconian regulations and an additional source of power seeped into the existed law that regulates the working of various institutions, including Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT), gendarmerie forces, the military, governors and judiciary.

It grants broad and vast powers to governors to impose certain limitations on public life in cities, to cordon off certain areas, ban entry and exit to neighborhoods for no more than 15 days, and even prohibit the right to assembly  and gatherings in public spaces during the day and night whenever they deem necessary for the sake of public order and security.

Ministers will individually be able to carry purges for three more years in their ministries and departments. There is no need for cabinet action or collective decision. Any minister will possess the power to fire or dismiss any public servant with the ministerial review.

The new law grants power to the cabinet to continue dismissals in the judiciary for another three years.

In a broader context, the new legislation ensures that majority of the emergency regime practices will indeed remain in place. In line with that fact, critics even dubbed the new era as “Every day is an emergency rule.”

Human Rights Watch (HRW) also said the law now normalizes the emergency rule in Turkey.

“The end of Turkey’s state of emergency should have been a good sign for human rights, but the draft law makes clear that the government’s plan is to end it in name only,” Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at HRW, said while the bill was signed into law on Friday.

“The government should scrap this law and fully restore human rights and the rule of law in Turkey.”

More than 150,000 public workers have either been suspended or dismissed during the state of emergency imposed five days after the July 15, 2016 coup.

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